Cardinals manager La Russa recently wondered whether his 2005 team is feared the way the thundering

ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager La Russa recently wondered whether his 2005 team is feared the way the thundering, dominating ’04 Cards were. On Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium, his club showed that maybe it should be. Announcing its postseason presence with authority, St. Louis thumped San, 8, the opener of a National League Gigi Datome Jersey Division Series for the two teams. The Cardinals scored with balls and bloop hits. They got outstanding start. They played defense. short, they looked like a 100-win team matched up against 82-win team. Leading the charge was Sanders, who broke open the game and the record book with a fifth-inning grand slam off Padres ace Jake Peavy. It was the third grand slam Cardinals postseason history, and the sixth Division Series play since the current format began 1995. Sanders also chipped a two-run single, giving him six RBIs to set a Cardinals record and NLDS. Edmonds added his 11th career postseason home run, and Chris Carpenter twirled six shutout innings before he was pulled due to cramping his pitching hand.

There was a downside — a outing for a Cardinals Isaiah Thomas Jersey bullpen that was a question entering the postseason. Four relievers pitched, and each was charged with at least one run. the postseason, though, the only thing that matters is the final score. Up 1 with issues is much better than down 0 with smooth sailing. We’d obviously like to give up less runs, but I think the run it be nice that everybody got the game today, said Edmonds. I’m sure we’d like to pitch a little better and maybe keep scoring runs, but we had a solid game, a lot of guys got the game and we got a couple of breaks against one of the top pitchers the National League. Sanders hammered a 3 pitch from Peavy high and deep to left field, turning a 4 game into 8 rout and chasing the National League’s strikeout leader. The Cardinals had loaded the bases on infield hit, a line-drive single and a walk before Sanders came to the plate. With Peavy struggling to hit his spots, La Russa elected to let Sanders swing away, and the decision worked out beautifully. gave me the green light, so it was one of those deals where, if I wanted it, I had the opportunity to swing, said Sanders. is one of those guys that goes past the norm. that situation, he understood that was not locating the ball.

But he also knew that situation, bases loaded, that he’s got to throw a strike. So take a hack and let’s what happens. Edmonds also went deep, putting the Cardinals ahead the first. The slugging center fielder lofted 0 fastball from Peavy 382 feet into the visitors bullpen left field for the 11th postseason home run of his career. Edmonds’ seven career homers Division Series play rank second among National League players, behind only Atlanta’s Chipper Jones. Chris Carpenter pitched six shutout innings for the Cardinals his playoff debut before being pulled due to cramping his pitching hand. Carpenter frequently worked out of trouble the early innings, inducing three double plays, before rolling through a hitless fourth, fifth and sixth. It was Carpenter’s best start more than three weeks, answering what had been one of the biggest questions about the Cardinals. The right-hander was unbeatable from until early, but looked less sharp his final four starts. I thought early on I got away with a couple pitches, but we made some nice defensive plays, Carpenter said. I felt like after the second, I started to settle down and get the ball down the strike zone and make the quality pitches I had to make. And again, we had three key double plays that stopped some rallies. Carpenter escaped from a bizarre jam the second. Sweeney reached on a leadoff infield single, although replays indicated that Albert Pujols beat him to the bag. Hernandez followed with a line drive that David Eckstein simply didn’t catch, and the error left Carpenter with two on and no outs. But Khalil Greene flied out to center, and Carpenter induced a double play from -killer Joe. St. Louis turned double plays to end the next two innings, including a key 5 twin killing the third with No. 3 hitter Loretta at the plate, two men on base and the dangerous Giles on deck. Loretta worked a nine-pitch at-bat before smoking a bouncer right at Nunez at third. Nunez stepped on the base and unloaded to first base time, thwarting danger. That was a battle between me and Loretta, and he comes up and hits the ball hard, said Carpenter. But it was right at Nunie, and he made a great play. Sanders’ two-run single capped a dink-and-dunk rally the third. The Cards put runners on second and third with a soft single by Eckstein and Edmonds bloop double. After Pujols was walked intentionally, a wild pitch scored Eckstein. Peavy fell behind 3 before walking him intentionally, and Sanders singled off the end of the bat — and off first baseman Sweeney’s glove — to make it 4.

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